Head to Toronto in the fall and you won’t just get to experience the city as Canadian oaks and maples explode in every shade of red, orange and gold, but you’ll also find Egyptian brunches, brilliant festivals, antiquarian book vending machines, and Ziggy Stardust Disco Eggs. Here’s an itinerary for two excellent days spent exploring Ontario’s capital this autumn.
Wake up in one of 37 artist-designed rooms at the boutique Gladstone Hotel on Queen Street West, or check out some of the great Airbnbs in the area. Eggs benny and avo toast can wait; make the first feast of the day Egyptian falafels with soft egg centres at Maha’s. Served with cumin home fries and salad, they make for a ridiculously good brunch, especially when paired with a honey and cardamom latte.
Toronto in autumn means there will be a festival happening somewhere in the city.
Toronto hosts amazing literary festivals every fall. Look out for October’s International Festival of Authors at Harbourfront Centre. At the same venue, the one-day Toronto Book and Magazine Festival in September features hundreds of renowned authors and the world’s largest outdoor bookstore.
For even more books, stop in at Monkey’s Paw. You’ll find all sorts of rare used books, curios and eclectic titles, and the world’s first Biblio-Mat — a vending machine dispensing random old books for $2 a piece. Your base, Queen Street West, is also home to the coolest stores (as well as some truly world-class galleries and bars). Look out for Selftraits, where you can commission your own 3D bust following a quick scan in the studio.
There are some excellent wineries right in the city, but if you have a car while you’re in Toronto, consider heading to Vineland Estates Winery for a tour and tasting about an hour and forty minutes southeast of downtown. With a latitude similar to Northern Italy’s, the Niagara peninsula region boasts more than a hundred vineyards.
The $65 tasting menu at Paul Kim’s Doma is a steal of a way to try innovative dishes like pork belly with lotus root and grilled nectarine, and bibimbap with quail eggs and honey brown mushrooms. Based in the heart of Little Italy, the menu changes every month according to what’s in season, but the mix of French cooking techniques paired with traditional Korean ingredients is always the go-to style for Kim and the team.
MorningFeast on biscuits and gravy, or huevos rancheros with goat feta and corn tortillas, then head off in search of Toronto’s finest nature spots. First stop is Glen Stewart Ravine to follow wooden walkways through a fairy tale scene of trees exploding in brilliant colour.
You can rent stand-up paddle boards at Lake Ontario’s beaches right through September. If you’re travelling with the kids this fall, why not rent bikes and zip along the Waterfront Trail? While you’re in the area, take the ferry over to Toronto Islands for a spin under fiery autumn trees.
If it’s raining, take things indoors at the Royal Ontario Museum. Home to first-class art, world culture, and national history exhibits, the nation’s biggest museum is also the place to see an actual dodo skeleton.
Mooch around the historic Distillery District, where the red brick buildings that were once home to whisky producers now contain independent stores (look out for discount Chanel and YSL at Thrill of the Find), galleries, restaurants and cafés lined with patios that are perfect for people watching.
Chef Brandon Olsen has created a seriously fun, glitzy place at La Banane. Sip some classic 1920s cocktails, take in the disco music, and order whatever your French bistro-loving heart desires. Perfect omelettes with $80 swooshes of caviar? Scallops from the raw bar doused in garlic buttermilk sauce? Chocolate truffle-filled Ziggy Stardust Disco Eggs that owe as much in looks to Joan Miró as they do to Bowie? It’s all here. It’s all delicious.
Finish things off with a comedy show at The Second City Toronto, famous for its improv and sketch shows. Happily collapse into bed. This is definitely your kind of place.
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